Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. CDT

September 27, 2018 - 12:00 am

LAWMAKER ARRESTED

Mississippi lawmaker arrested for refusing to take DUI test

(Information from: The Clarion Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com)

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — A high-ranking Mississippi legislator has been arrested for refusing to take a DUI test after running into the back of another car at a red light near his home in Meridian.

The Clarion Ledger reports House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden was arrested Thursday.

Snowden, a Republican, says he wasn't drunk and hit the car because he was texting and looking at his phone about the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings in Washington.

Police Chief Benny Dubose says his officers responded to a call of an individual driving erratically and running people off the road. When they arrived on scene, he says, they said they smelled alcohol and Snowden failed a field sobriety test.

The 64-year-old says he has bad knees and was unable to walk properly for the field sobriety test.

Neither Snowden, the second-ranking lawmaker in the House, nor the other driver reported injuries.

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BURNED WOMAN-MISSISSIPPI

FBI agent: Man in burning death admits sex, denies timing

BATESVILLE, Miss. (AP) — An FBI agent says the man on trial for burning a Mississippi woman to death told him the two had sex, but not on the day she was burned.

Agent Dustin Blount testified Thursday in the capital murder retrial of Quinton Tellis, accused of killing Jessica Chambers in 2014. A jury couldn't reach a verdict in Tellis' first trial last year.

Local news outlets report Blount says Tellis also showed him a gas can.

Prosecutors believe Tellis poured gas on Chambers after the two had sex, lighting her ablaze and causing her death.

A plastic surgeon is also reopening whether Chambers could speak after attacked, stating his opinion was she could form sounds but not words. Ten emergency workers have testified they heard Chambers say someone named Eric attacked her.

NISSAN-CAR PRODUCTION-MISSISSIPPI

Nissan says it spent $170M to retool for new sedan model

CANTON, Miss. (AP) — Nissan Motor Co. says it invested $170 million at plants in Mississippi and Tennessee as it retooled to make a new Altima sedan model.

The company officially marked the start of production in Canton Thursday with a ceremony including Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. The company also makes the cars at its Smyrna, Tennessee, plant, where production of the sixth-generation Altima began in August.

Nissan says it now can make 450,000 vehicles yearly at the 15-year-old Canton plant, and says more than 6,500 Nissan employees and contractors work at the complex.

The company currently assembles the Altima, Murano SUV, Frontier and Titan pickup trucks and NV cargo and passenger vans in Canton.

Nissan says it has invested $3.4 billion in Canton and nearly $12 billion overall in U.S. manufacturing operations.

HEALTH CARE FRAUD-MISSISSIPPI

Woman gets more than 3 years in prison in pharmacy fraud

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A nurse practitioner will spend 3½ years in prison for defrauding a federal health insurer while working at a Mississippi clinic.

Susan Perry of Grand Bay, Alabama, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett after pleading guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Perry, who worked in Biloxi, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay nearly $1.4 million in restitution at $150 a month after leaving prison.

She admitted in court to prescribing unneeded medications handmade by a Hattiesburg compounding pharmacy. Those prescriptions cost a federal military health insurer nearly $1.4 million in 2014 and early 2015.

Perry was convicted in a larger investigation into pharmacies that officials say bilked more than $400 million from insurers.

SHIPYARD CONTRACTS

Navy awards $3.9 billion contract to Bath Iron Works

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — The U.S. Navy says it's awarded a ship's $3.9 billion contract to Bath Iron Works to build four new destroyers.

The Navy announced Friday that it awarded the contract to the Bath shipyard as part of a plan to build 10 new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Competitor Huntington Ingalls of Mississippi will build six destroyers.

The contracts contain options for additional ships if Congress appropriates more money.

The Bath shipyard will build the destroyers over four years.

The shipyard this year successfully fought to receive $45 million in non-refundable state tax credits over 15 years, down from $60 million over 20 years as originally proposed.

The shipyard employs 5,500 workers and says it wants to stay competitive with the Mississippi shipyard as it bids to build the Navy's new frigate.

SCHOOL SICKNESS

Mississippi school investigates what's sickening students

(Information from: WCBI-TV, http://www.wcbi.com)

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Officials are trying to figure out what's making students sick at a Mississippi middle school.

WCBI-TV reports four students and a teacher went home sick on Thursday from Eiland Middle School in Louisville.

They're the latest victims of a sickness that had already affected at least 10 students this week.

Louisville Superintendent Randy Grierson says Atmos Energy Corp tested and found no natural gas or carbon monoxide.

Winston County Emergency Management Director Buddy King says the Mississippi National Guard is taking air samples to test for chemicals. The school district is also cleaning the 8th grade hall to ensure no lingering fumes or chemicals.

On Wednesday, the district said at least one student admitted to vaping, raising the possibility other students may have been exposed to fumes or other substances.

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